The situation I'm sitting in a corner booth at Park Pub on Phinney Ridge with the four members of Wonderful--Jason Holstrom, Jon e. Rock, Peter Sali, and Noah Star Weaver, who've been playing music together for 15 years, since first meeting in the dorms at SPU. "It's a brotherhood," says Holstrom.
Wonderful actually predates the quartet's better-known band, the dance-explosive U.S.E., and they've spent the past five years taking weekend trips dedicated to writing and recording Wonderful songs for their new album, Wake Up to Dreamland.
"U.S.E. was all about four-on-the-floor beats," says Sali, "and we wanted to do something less-- [he pounds his fist in front of him] and more . . . [he opens his fists and lifts his hands into the air] . . . floaty."
How They Got Here Weaver tells me that for the album-release show, he's planning to wear a pink ABBA jumpsuit, purchased for him by his wife, and that he's also chosen a stretchy, psychedelic Indian dress for Holstrom. Then he tells me that he makes harps and hammered dulcimers for a living. I ask him if he's an elf.
"Kind of," he says.
"We think so," agrees Holstrom.
Shop Talk After years of tromps into the wilderness, these guys have more camping stories than your average Boy Scout. There was the time at Sali's family cabin in Naches (just northwest of Yakima) during a heat wave: "We all had towels over our heads," recalls Sali. "We'd get the towels wet, put them in the freezer, get them out of the freezer, and have, like, 10 minutes of a cool towel, then we'd record."
There was the "almost hurricane" at Cannon Beach, when, remembers Rock, "We decided to go on the beach. At three in the morning. In pitch black. You can't see each other."
"Pete almost blew away," adds Holstrom.
And there was the trip to the floating cabins on Ross Lake in the North Cascades. They loaded their gear onto a speedboat and a wave almost capsized them. They emerged four days later with 120 tracks of vocals for one song (Dreamland's "Gimme All the Love You Can")."That's the recipe for taking five years to finish an album," says Holstrom.
BTW: The new album's title ties into the boys' decade-plus bond--"I think of it as a very friendship-centric album," says Sali. "And to me, dreamland is waking up on any given morning on one of these trips we'd take and getting to hang out all day."
Before they part ways to walk to their cars, each gives each an individual hug goodbye.
Wonderful is playing a CD release for Wake Up to Dreamland tomorrow night, June 23, at the Crocodile. Aqueduct and the Lumineers will also play; the show starts at 8 p.m., and the cover is $10.